Breaking down the Black Knights’ defense

By Matt Hopkinson

Defensive Line

Army has no standout stud players on the defensive line, so it will be interesting to see what happens with NIU’s offensive play calling. If there is not a lot of pressure put on Jordan Lynch, the Huskies could opt to go for more passing plays. There have been a few contributions on the line from junior defensive ends Holt Zalneraitis and Clayton Keller, who each recorded a sack.

The linebackers is where Army will see more production on defense. Senior Nate Combs will be the player to watch for, as he posted two sacks in the game against San Diego State, and also recorded five tackles. The linebackers corp for Army has recorded three sacks already and has racked up tackles with sophomore Geoffrey Bacon recording nine in their first and only game this season.


Army’s secondary will be pressured with the challenge of covering multiple weapons from NIU in seniors Martel Moore and Perez Ashford. The key player for Army in their secondary will be senior Josh Jackson, who led the team last season in pass breakups. Jackson had two pass breakups already in their first game, as well as recording four tackles.

Special Teams

A key player to watch for on Army’s special teams will be sophomore kick returner Larry Dixon who accumulated 76 yards on just three returns in their first game. Dixon posted a long return of 30 yards, so he has the potential to break a big play any time he touches the ball. NIU will have to be organized and stay in their lanes to be able to contain the Black Knights return man.